Hey guys, as we finish up February I want to personally thank all of you for your continued safe practices when it relates to social distancing and personal safety while at our field. As vaccinations proceed across the country, safety margins are increasing – but we will likely be under Covid protocols for the rest of 2021.
I am seeing a lot more members returning to the field now, and I am really enjoying catching up with them. Last week I managed a visit with Lee Norton. He and his wife Rosie are doing well, but still isolating for their safety. He wanted me to pass on “Hellos” to everybody for him.
Along with prior/current members returning and flying their aircraft, we have had a large influx of new members join in the last couple of months. I have seen members from Miramar, Chula Vista, and Chollas RC clubs on recent weekends. Each of these clubs have had interesting challenges this year between FAA regulations, Site issues, and drama between members, and members are looking for alternate flying sites. I have heard some pretty odd claims on what is acceptable safety wise at other sites so I am going to restate some of our best practices, and our safety procedures for all users at SEFSD.
To start with, Our flying site is situated within a 50 foot altitude restricted area in accordance with the UAS Facility Map for the San Diego Area. Our current agreement ( Dec 2018 )with the FAA and US western Division of Air Traffic Control has given us up to a 200 foot altitude limit. There is no one out there with a tape measure, but most people have a fair idea of where 200 feet is. If you think you are close, ease down a bit. If you are “close” too much, expect a personal discussion. We have engaged the AMA on our behalf in attempts to restore our previous limit of 400 feet, but just hearing back from government bureaucracy can be a chore.
Along with the altitude limitation came a restriction on night flying. flying is not allowed at our site between dusk and dawn any day of the week.
The FAA also requires UAS recreational pilots ( US ) to register with them and place our registration number in a visible location on EVERY aircraft. While the club itself will not check your planes for registration #s, there has been an FAA enforcement officer at our club in the past with stern talk of a $2000.00 fine for every aircraft on site without a registration #. In the changing Remote ID environment, it is best to not be labeled as “outlaws…”
At our site we are surrounded by the community at all times, no fences. That means that we have random people walking across the runway and outer field by themselves and with pets. Do not harass people or animal in the outer area! If they are on the runway you can tell them it is not safe and ask them to move on. Always maintain an absolute minimum of 50 feet from any living creature. If you are flying a drone that can go over 50 mph at less than 50 feet altitude , be especially cognizant of pedestrians. Our outside boundaries are posted at every flying gate and at the Rotor Plex area. Please be familiar with the boundaries prior to each flight. Most importantly, do not come within 50 feet of the cement pedestrian pathway by the beach or get within 100 feet of any road bordering the outer field area. Do not fly over the water, and definitely do not fly to Fiesta Island. All Flying must remain within Line of flight – within our boundaries. Just because your drone can go 3 miles doesn’t mean you can…
In order to minimize mid-air, head to head collisions, we promote the use of a standard pattern while flying airplanes from the main runway. Over the runway or near the runway passes should be conducted into the wind. Downwind passes should be conducted 75 to 125 feet out over the field. The air space above the runway is reserved primarily for aircraft taking off and landing. If you desire to do a high speed pass over the runway, loudly call out your intention so other pilots know, and make every attempt to keep your high speed pass on the far side of the centerline ( I did a high speed pass with a jet on the near side of the centerline a few weeks ago – and needed to apologize to a few startled pilots -sorry..).
NO flying over the fence or the pit area. If you are out of control and pass over the fence line YOU are obligated to call out a warning to other pilots and family present.
If you need to step onto the runway or cross the runway for any reason, please loudly announce your intention to do so. Also pause and look both ways to ensure there is no one in the landing pattern before stepping out.
Pilots must loudly announce take offs and landings so others on the flightline are aware. Whispering it to yourself does absolutely no good. Make sure you are heard!
VTOL aircraft such as Helicopters and drones are allowed to fly from the main runway as long as they are flying in a scale like fashion. If they are in the pattern just like an airplane they are good. If they are out over the field away from the standard pattern they are good. No extended hovering or loitering on the field or directly in the airplane pattern is allowed – get it moving or move it to the Rotor Plex Area. We strongly discourage Helicopter 3-D over the main runway. The only exception to this is if there are no other aircraft in the sky at the time. If you intend to fly your helicopter in a non-scale manner and planes are utilizing the main runway, you must use the Rotor Plex area to avoid collision.
Mission Bay Park is designated as a non-smoking, no alcohol allowed area. Absolutely no smoking or drinking in the pit area is allowed. If you must smoke, please do so away from the parking/pit area and be downwind so your smoke doesn’t blow and everybody else’s face.
Mission Bay Park is also designated as a no pet area, and citations have been issued by rangers in the past to people with pets outside of their vehicle. Be careful with your animal.
A few more notes, and I’ll bring this book to an end…
T-28 Racing has started for 2021. It is held the second Saturday each month and starts at 10:AM. The FMS 800 MM Trojan cost $110.00 and are available from Discount Hobbies and Horizon.
I expect electro glide to resume in the next couple of months, a mail blast from Jeff will announce the exact date.
As positivity rates continue to decline, the Board of Directors will be watching and will determine a safe time to resume meetings at the field and fun-fly events.
I’m going to ask a favor from each person using the main runway over the next few weeks. The slight rain we received last month didn’t do much but uncover a lot of small rocks on the runway. If people take 5 minutes each day they fly and pick up a few handfuls of rocks to throw into the weeds or the parking lot, that will help set us up to wet and roll at the end of March.
Finally, the homeless have been extremely active again and are stealing all of our chairs rapidly. If you plan on replacing your lawn furniture this season, please bring your old chairs to the club – we can use them!